Six Make Final Moves at Churchill Downs
By Dick Downey
On a picture-perfect Saturday morning at Churchill Downs, six more Kentucky Derby horses put in their final workouts in preparation for the Run for the Roses, and there were a couple more at Santa Anita and Belmont Park.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent out Bravazo before dawn to work five furlongs in company. Churchill Downs clockers, led by John Nichols, got him in 1:01.40 (10/49), breezing, with internal splits of 14.00, 26.00 and 37.80. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.00.
“He’s doing really good,” the 82-year-old Lukas said. “It’s always great to have a horse in the Derby – even though this year’s field is tougher than others.”
During the 7:30 session reserved for Derby and Kentucky Oaks horses, Chad Brown trainee Good Magic was the first to work. He breezed solo five furlongs in 1:01.20 (7/49), after running fractions of 12.80, 24.80, 36.60 and 49.40.He was out six furlongs in 1:14.00 and seven in 1:27.00.
Brown was in communication with exercise rider Walter Malasquez from the frontside during the work but said he only used the radio to confirm early on that they weren’t going too fast.
“This is as good as he’s ever worked,” Brown said. “He won the Breeders’ Cup last year off of a really, really good breeze. It’s really taken all winter and spring to get him right to what we see today, at his very best. Headed to the pole the horse showed great energy. Actually, a little keen, but manageable. My rider, Walter, gets along with this horse, he’s been galloping him every day and he’s been breezing him. They have great chemistry together and he got him settled and focused when they started the breeze. From there on it was very smooth, well within himself. The time is a guideline to see where we’re at, but really it’s how he’s moving, how he pulls up, soundness-wise and fitness-wise, and so far he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Brown said.
“He’s the best horse we’ve ever taken to the Derby, for sure,” Brown said. “He has all the qualities that I think it would take. He’s a highly regarded 2-year-old champion, has the right pedigree, good looking, sound, and enormous ability. Coming into a big race you try to read their body language and see how they’re doing overall. If you know your horses individually then you know what their par is and this horse looks to be in his zone right now, mentally and physically. He’s giving me all of the right body language that I’ve seen from other horses going into big races over the years. In a way, you try to treat this race like any other big race and that’s what we’re doing and he’s giving us all of the right signs.”
Dale Romans, who trains Free Drop Billy and Promises Fulfilled, sent the latter one out first. Working solo, Promises Fulfilled ran fractions of 12.00, 24.40 and 48.00 and completed five furlongs in 1:00.20 (4/49), galloping out six in 1:13.00.
“I think most people know our plan in the Derby,” Romans said. “This horse is naturally fast and so we’ll be up front early and hope we can stay there late.”
Free Drop Billy, also working solo, started his move at the 3/8 pole, going an eighth-mile in 12.60, three furlongs in 37.00 at the wire, and finishing up four furlongs in the turn in 49.40 (27/83), breezing.
“He worked really good,” Romans said. “He already has a lot of foundation in him from the Blue Grass so he doesn’t need anything major to get him ready.”
Flameaway was next to breeze, working in company with and outside of Ride a Comet for trainer Mark Casse. He ran four furlongs in 47.80 (2/83) under exercise rider Chris Garraway after internal splits in 11.60, 22.80 and 34.80. He galloped out five in 1:02.00.
“I honestly couldn’t ask for anything better,” Casse said. “We had radios on the rider, so we stopped him at about the three-sixteenths pole to slow him down because he was going to work faster than I’ve ever seen him work. He’s not much of a workhorse normally, but he’s gotten a little more aggressive and worked better here I would say.”
My Boy Jack was the last Derby worker at Churchill Downs this morning. He worked solo, going five furlongs in a leisurely 1:03.20, breezing, with internal splits of 13.60 and 38.40 and out six furlongs in 1:16.60 for trainer Keith Desormeaux.
“He started out slow, but he picked it up pretty good at the end,” trainer Desormeaux said. “That’s just what we wanted him to do.”
Desormeaux noted further that “Jack” has 10 starts coming into the Run for the Roses, the most by any horse in the likely 20-horse field.
At Santa Anita, Bolt d'Oro worked four furlongs in 48.20 after an inital quarter-mile in 24.20 under Victor Espinoza. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.40 for owner-trainer Mick Ruis. Steve Haskin tweeted today that in the Kentucky Derby Bolt d'Oro will wear the silks of B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm in apprection of Hughes buying half the breeding rights to the colt.
“Victor never moved a hand on him,” the owner/trainer said enthusiastically. “He went around there easy as could be. We didn’t need any more with him. We put that seven-eighths into him last week, and he’s got all his air now. Heck, if after...the San Felipe and the Santa Anita Derby and that good work last week -- if that isn’t enough to have him ready for this race -- then we shouldn’t be there.”
At Belmont Park,Firenze Fire went a half mile in 50 seconds, and he galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.00. According to a tweet by David Grening of DRF, Firenze Fire will be vanned to Churchill Downs.
“It was just a maintenance move,” trainer Jason Servis said. “It was fine. He is supposed to leave at 11 in the morning and be at Churchill Monday.”
And at Keeneland, Blended Citizen, number 21 on the Derby points leaderboard, breezed a mile in 1.41:60 (1/2) in company with Pat Day Mile candidate Shane Zain, who was timed in 1:42.00.
This leaves four Derby workouts on the shelf: Combatant (assuming he goes in the race), Hofburg, Instilled Regard and Solomini.
Mendelssohn is scheduled to arrive in Kentucky from Ireland late Monday afternoon and won't be on the track at Churchill until after he clears quarantine, which will be Thursday morning.
Post positions for the Kentucky Derby will be drawn on Tuesday.